6 Natural Curl Enhancing Methods

When I first went natural, I recall watching videos of people applying conditioner to hair that looked like mine to magically form clumps. However, mine did not. Of course, there is really no magic to it. Natural hair in its stretched form pretty much looks alike but when wet some of us have clumps and some of us won’t. Naturally getting your hair to curl is a matter of finding the right method that works for you. If you don’t care for it, that is fine too; but if you are on a journey to find some clumps, here are 6 different ways.

1. Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay really can create curl clumps where there were none before and can also emphasize hair that naturally clumps. A clay wash at a basic level just entails mixing clay with water and applying as a mask to hair for around 15 minutes at a minimum.

-Generally very good results on all hair. If you use the hair typing system this would be 4ABC right through to the wavy type 2.
-Bentonite clay can also be used as a mild cleanser

– Some people feel that the clay makes hair feel dry . You can fix this by either using a rinse in or leave in conditioner.
– Clay can get stuck on the scalp and therefore care around that area is essential.


2. Shingling – Finger detangling with a styling cream gel product

Shingling refers to the use of fingers in efforts to smooth out and define curls when hair is wet or damp and a styling cream is used. It is a term that was coined by Miss Jessie’s but you may see many tutorials simply refer to it as finger detangling.

– Probably one of the simplest curl defining methods as it simply involves raking a styling product through damp hair

– Generally works well with hair that naturally clumps. Some 4B and 4C hair types would not yield the same result without using another curl clumping method first e.g bentonite clay wash
– Great variability on the longevity of the style with some people able to go for a week but others 2 days at a maximum


3. Tightly Curly or Conditioner Only Method

I noticed that I have not yet used a male demonstrator for a hair tutorial so here is one! The conditioner only or tightly curly method was described first by Teri La Flesh and involves using conditioner to both moisturize and style hair.

– Only a hair conditioner is required
– Although this method does not work with all hair textures, quite a bit of the wave curl spectrum would be covered 4A, type 3 A, B, C and 2 can all expect some results.

– Some people do not like the feel of the excess conditioner on hair with some reporting scalp itchiness or a feeling of a film on hair
– Some combing or brushing may be required for curls to clump for some hair. This may not be ideal for finer hair.


4. Hair Gel

Hair gel is typically used over a leave in conditioner to avoid hair becoming very dry and crunchy. It is a pretty simple method with better effect if the gel is applied to small sections at a time.

– A relatively simple process
-Many hair gels are sold in large tubs at relatively cheap prices

– Only hair that clumps naturally or hair that has been treated with a product such as bentonite clay and made to clump is best suited for this technique
– It will take some time to perfect the gel to hair section ratio as well as the type of gel that gives the best results.


5. Scrunch and Diffuse

This method involves scrunching in a relatively small amount of a conditioning product into freshly washed hair and then allowing it to air dry or use a diffuser to speed up the drying process without breaking up the curls

-Another fairly simple method, requiring the styling product to be smoothed into the hair

– Generally works well with only the wavier type of curls – type 2 to type 3A, B. Wavier curls are more amenable to scrunching compared to the more corkscrew type of curls that could have the clumps disrupted by scrunching.


6. Max Hydration

I will not go on too much about this as I am certain many of the regular blog readers already know all about this method. If not, see the previous article – here

– Curl definition even on harder to clump textures e.g 4B and 4C

– Complicated process. Consider simply adding bentonite clay as a step after a standard shampoo and conditioner to simplify the method.
– Some reports of hair feeling dry and breaking after the process.


Have you mastered the art of curl clumping? What is your preferred method?

The Natural Haven

The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

16 thoughts on “6 Natural Curl Enhancing Methods

  1. Currently, I use gel over conditioner. it’s not specifically for the purpose of clumping my curls, although I’m not a bit complaining about that particular side effect, but as a seal for the conditioner, glycerin, and oil I layer on underneath. I’m heavy-handed with the conditioner, smoothing it lavishly into my soaking-wet hair (that I’ve already divided into 4 sections, cleaned, and detangled) from roots to ends, concentrating a little more on the oldest ends. I emulsify a dot of more conditioner with a good amount of glycerin and apply that next, in the same way I did the conditioner. Then I apply sweet almond oil. The gel goes on last, starting on the ends, then working my way up. After I’ve applied gel to all 4 sections, I scoop up more gel, turn my head upside-down, and pull-scrunch (I gently enclose a section of hair near my scalp in my fist in a scrunching manner, then gently glide my fist down the length of my hair. It’s a scrunch, but with a length pull added to it) the gel through, making sure to blend in the parts from the sections. Then I fling my hair back as I stand up again, scoop up more gel if I think I need to, and pull-scrunch some more, but this time I’m also putting my hair where I want it as part of the motion.

    Now that I’ve determined that I need to wear my hair up more to protect it, I’m hoping someone with fine, variably-curly strands in the 4 range (I think) can point me to some budget-friendly ($1.50 per oz max!) alternatives to gel that will protect my hair as effectively :-). I’m looking for something that lends itself to me applying additional moisturizer as needed during a 7-day period so I can cleanse on a weekly basis.

  2. I do all of these, except the scrunch and diffuse and the max hydration method. I’m not 100% on what the MHM is exactly, and I’m not in the mood or place to watch videos, but I looked into it once and there were one too many steps and complexities for me. However, I saw some similar things in one youtuber’s videos, like using ACV, which I’ve done regularly in the past.

    Using conditioner as a moisturizer/styler is my default, mainly because it’s easier than buying even more products than I already have, just to style and moisturize my hair. Leave in conditioner (including rinse out conditioner used as a leave in – guilty!) *is* my moisturizer. I’m not buying a separate moisturizing product to do what my conditioner can. Other than water. I sometimes add a styler on top, but sometimes it literally is just conditioner and oil.

    I need to restock on my Terresentials, like, yesterday. Clay washes are heavenly for my hair. Or at least Terresentials is. Another alternative could be the SM Purification Masque, which is clay based and is a kind of deep conditioner/cowash in one for some people.

    Shingling is something I recently got into, and I have success with shingling with just conditioner and oil, and also with gel. For me, shingling is focused primarily on separating and smoothing “each coil.” Definitely makes the curls POP, and when I use gel, I kind of feel like the gel cast keeps the coils from curling on another too easily (not tangling as much!) The “each coil” may sound like it takes forever, but it actually doesn’t take long for me at all. Just take tiny sections within a section and smooth gel down the hair with your fingers,

  3. Lately, I’ve just been doing large braid outs (3/4 large braids on each side of my head) after cowashing, using leave in conditioner (or rinse out conditioner used as a leave in), a bit of oil, and some kind of styler on top. (Though the styler isn’t necessary, my 4a hair clumps easily, and it is a braid out.) A few months ago, it was all about EcoStyler and shingling. However, sometimes the dry winter weather doesn’t go well with EcoStyler. Taliah Wajiid Curly Curl Cream (I think) is great. It gives a defining boost for my hair and it is a cream and not a gel. Aside from that, I get good results when I mix blob of conditioner with a blob of Shea Moisture Curling Gel Souffle. (Not a real gel – its an oily, goopy concoction. Similar to flaxseed gel.)

    I’m LOVING the results of my large braids. It’s so funny how our hair and our tastes change. It was all about twists for a minute. Now, braids are everything.

  4. KCCC is a gel, one of many different kinds that can (with practice) help improve or enhance definition. KCCC combined with KCKT guarantees at least 3 full days of touchable definition on my 4b coils.

    I’ve learned over the years that simply encouraging my coils to coil produces more and better definition over time. For me that’s meant daily contact with water in some form, using conditioners with cones (they work for me), using gel for longer-lasting results, smoothing rather than raking product through, and avoiding combs and brushes. I use bentonite clay on occasion but I mix mine with ACV and a little oil; it rinses out better IMO.

  5. Thanks so much for this. I tried the bentonite clay on my daughter’s hair today and the results were amazing – this is the first natural method to work on her hair.

  6. A top a learned from YouTube vlogger Nik is to add curl activator to the gel mix..my hair responded well to this treatment…

  7. who said they werent? if i got a nice pair of shoes that were scuffed, why wouldnt i go and get them shined up to maximize their beauty? i hate when people always go down that “self hate” route. No ones ashamed of their texture, make up enhances, hair color makes an old look look new, and defining our curls which we already have, is the exact same thing.

    • “maximise their beauty” by altering the texture of your hair, lol ok. i’m not saying don’t curl your hair but i don’t see people trying it in reverse…to make their hair more coily, or more kinky….wonder why…..

  8. @disqus_dEQo2NItTX:disqus, please with the faux concern. That’s like saying, don’t wash your ass because if you do you aren’t accepting the natural state that the body goes through. Ridiculous!

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